There is a saying, “the only thing that stays the same is change.” These days, we are subject to change more than ever, because we now have so much more choice than ever before. Through the power of the internet, we now have access to unlimited amounts of information . We Google something, and we instantly get thousands of opinions, options and choices. And all this choice is both a good thing and a bad thing for us.
On the plus side, we like to have options for what we do, and freedom of choice in how we live our lives is something we continue to fight for. On the negative side, too much choice and constant change can be very stressful and overwhelming for us. So which is best? Well, in fact we need both, and how much of each really depends on the individual. Some people like constant change and risk taking, whilst others prefer to maintain the status quo.
So how is this relevant to business? Well, we need to recognise that our customers have unlimited access to buy products and services from anybody else, and in some cases, from anywhere in the world. We can’t rely on the fact that as long as our customers are satisfied with what we do, they will stay with us. They will be constantly bombarded with new choices and encouraged to shop around for just about everything. Even if they have the most anti-change personality, can we really afford to just sit back and hope that they don’t go and try out our competitors?
In his book “Customer satisfaction is worthless, customer loyalty is priceless,” sales guru Jeffery Gitomer identified that we have to work just as hard on keeping our existing clients as we do getting new ones. This is a really important issue, and one that is often overlooked by business owners. (Just look at all the Companies that offer great introductory deals for new customers, but don’t do a great deal for the customers they already have!)
For example – I had a client who was spending tens of thousands of pounds on generating new leads for their business annually. Despite this, their customer base was not increasing, year on year. When we looked in detail at what was happening, we found that they were losing as many clients as they were bringing on each year. Something needed to change!
So they diverted a proportion of the marketing budget from lead generation to investing in looking after their existing customers. This helped the business to start growing again through improved customer retention and an increasing customer base. My client didn’t have to spend more, but just refocus their marketing investment.
If your customer retention needs improvement, the key question to ask yourself is, WHY should your customers stay with you? The first answer is, of course, the product or service you supply. It goes without saying that this must be first class, available when needed and give good value for money.
The WOW Factor
However, it is not sufficient to make your customers WANT to stay with you. The real key to building customer loyalty is going the extra mile for them and creating the “WOW factor”, so they’d never even think of going anywhere else. And in fact, they recommend you to everyone they know!
So what is the “WOW factor?” Well, think of it as the little extra things that you do for your customers, over and above the normal product or service you provide. It is the things that you do that tap into the emotions of your customers and leave a lasting impression.
A classic example is of a top hotel in New York that ensured its favoured guests’ rooms had their favourite flowers, wine and chocolates waiting for them when they arrived. It also trained its staff to remember the little details that would make their guests’ stay so much more memorable, and ensure that they would never even think of staying anywhere else.
Paddi Lund, the most successful dentist in Australia, built his entire business on referrals and loyal customers. He called these extras “critical non-essentials” (CNE’s). The key to their success is that they are not directly related to the product or service you are offering. Just giving more or better service is not enough; your customers already expect the best. When you deliver great service, they are just getting what they have paid for.
The WOW factor comes when you surprise the client with something different and unique to them, so much so that they not only say WOW to themselves, but they will also go and tell everybody they know about it. An example of this happened to me a few years ago when I was playing golf at Celtic Manor. Being taken to the locker room and shown to my own personal locker with my name on it, two lockers away from Tiger Woods’ locker, was such a memorable moment that I just had to tell people about it whenever I got the opportunity!
The key to successful CNE’s is to overcome the 3 reasons NOT to do them:
1 Lack of ideas
Give yourself time to think about it. Talk to your customers, find out more about them and what interests and excites them. Consult with your team, and speak to friends and colleagues too. It is sometimes easier to come up with ideas for other people’s businesses than it is for your own!
2 Lack of money
Remember that your CNE’s are part of your marketing, so you should be allocating some of your general marketing budget to them. Also try to be creative – CNE’s don’t need to cost you a fortune! What they need to do is demonstrate to your customers that you’ve thought about them as individuals – like my personal locker at Celtic Manor.
3 Lack of time
Always make sure that any CNE system you start, you can continue with, however busy you become. You can do this by systemising the process, training your staff and delegating the responsibility for carrying it on to your team.
So now you know how to create the WOW factor, you just need to put it into ACTION, because if you don’t, your competition might beat you to it! And if you want to learn more, why not attend our upcoming Customer Mastery Workshop? Call the office now for more details!